Although there are a large number of obstacles conspiring to slow the Cubs here in the dog days of September, their missing closer is one of the most visible and tangible concerns, especially as the bullpen starts to struggle.
As you well know, Brandon Morrow (elbow) has been sidelined since the All-Star break and, until Sunday, had thrown just one official bullpen session as he mounted his return.
He threw his second bullpen session on Sunday, but the results were apparently less than desirable. According to the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, Morrow threw 25 pitches on Sunday, but the session was characterized as lighter than expected and more “touch and feel” than they had hoped. Naturally, those reviews had us a bit concerned, as especially as hints of a “final decision” being made by this weekend loomed over the Brewers series and the entire finish to this season.
HOWEVER, after waking up and feeling good yesterday Morrow played some catch and the rehab continues! There’s still a chance!
Morrow said he feels good. Threw off flat ground Monday again too.
Plan is for him to throw a bullpen Wednesday again as he ramps back up to rejoin the roster hopefully by end of weekend or early next week (the target date he/Cubs have had in mind).
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) September 11, 2018
Not only did Morrow feel good enough to play catch yesterday, he felt good enough to schedule his next – and theoretically final – bullpen session (Wednesday) before returning to the Cubs as soon as this weekend/early next week. “He was optimistic in a sense,” manager Joe Maddon said of Morrow to Cubs.com. “When I spoke to him afterward, the face was easy, a little bit of a smile, felt pretty good. Hopefully, it’s a good first step.”
Now, to be sure, Morrow may not be able to pitch on consecutive days for the rest of the season and even some of his first few appearances might have to be scripted (i.e. low leverage moments, 15 or so planned pitches, regardless of situation, etc.), but if he can come back sometime between Saturday and Monday, that’ll give him a couple weeks to get back on track before the postseason.
That could be enough time to get him ready to go. And, of course, if the Cubs manage to play deep into October again this year, Morrow might even be able to contribute more regularly by a theoretical second or third series, if you know what I mean. You’ll have to forgive me for my sudden optimism, but given the way this weekend and week has played out for the Cubs (and Bears!), I just need something positive to hold onto and Morrow’s giving it to us.